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Fire chief calls for more women in service

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Front
Fire chief calls for more women in service

OUTGOING regional fire service chief Andrew Kenna has said that he would like to see even more women join the fire service.

Reflecting on his time locally, Mr Kenna was full of praise for two women who are leading the way in the fire service in Dumfries and Galloway – station commanders Lucy Donaldson and Claire McNay.

Station commander Donaldson and area commander Kenna both attended Dumfries and Galloway Council’s police, fire and rescue sub-committee last Monday.

At the meeting, Mid and Upper Nithsdale Councillor Tony Berretti asked: “The last time we spoke I asked you about the gender profile of the service: is it changing?

“What’s it like currently, and what’s the recruitment aspect?”

Commander Kenna replied: “It’s something that we are focused on.

“We do need a workforce that represents the communities that we serve. Just looking at our youth volunteer schemes, you’ve seen two of our volunteers being female.

“One of them has said that she has aspirations to join the fire service. So that’s one aspect we’re looking at through the youth volunteers.

“With my own management team, I’ve got two female station commanders. They’re not just role models for females, they’re role models for everybody to join the fire service.”

The fire chief explained that the service does get a lot of applications from women but that there is still some work to be done to “break down barriers”.

He said: “What we’ve done is introduce a buddy system into the recruitment programme, so that when female applicants are going up for their practical selection test, we buddy them with a female firefighter.

“The feedback we’ve had for that is really, really positive. We’re seeing an increase in the uptake of female applicants coming through, which is really encouraging.

“As a service, we can do more. As an area, we can do more.”

He was also asked about lithium fire rates by Councillor Berretti, who has been campaigning for a ban on the sale of vapes and highlighted the fire dangers of lithium-ion batteries in these types of smoking devices. He asked about fires sparked as a result of these batteries.

Mr Kenna said: “We’ve had two reported fires that have involved lithium-ion batteries.

“One was in a computer repair shop, and another was in premises where it was a battery from an iMop – a small cleaning device.

“In both of those incidents the premises had adequate protection. They raised the alarm, we attended, and successfully extinguished both fires.”

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